How to manage online reviews for your e-commerce brand
In just a few months, the societal and economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis have greatly accelerated the shift towards online shopping and digital adaptation in general. In today’s e-commerce-focused world, customers cannot physically try and experience products before purchasing the way they would do in a physical store. Therefore, most consumers turn to online reviews before making a purchase.
Online reviews are essential for your e-commerce store.
The proliferation of online reviews has even gone so far as to shape how businesses are perceived online. Online reviews are critical when it comes to increasing your brand’s loyalty and maintaining a positive reputation. Positive online reviews are also beneficial for your revenue as customers are willing to spend 31% more on your online shop if it receives excellent reviews consistently.
Virtually everyone is reading online reviews before making a purchase online. The vast majority of customers trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation from friends or family. With negative reviews carrying as much weight as positive ones, customers will read a handful of online reviews before deciding to purchase your products; a single review makes up an opinion, but a few of them can establish a consensus.
Online reviews influence the customers’ decision-making process.
Including comprehensive, well-written product descriptions on your online store focused on search intent is of the utmost importance when influencing customers’ decision-making process. Nevertheless, when purchasing online, the customer decision-making process becomes progressively more complicated. With thousands of options available online, consumers have to put a lot more time and effort into evaluating and comparing similar products. Online reviews facilitate the customers’ decision-making process by helping them get a better idea of a product or a service by providing descriptions and opinions that are not merely biased advertisements from brands. It is a fact that consumers trust online reviews way more than brands’ product descriptions.
The benefits of positive online reviews
Customers need solid proof of your product’s quality, utility, and features before they make a purchase online. Your brand’s advertising and marketing materials alone might not cut it, no matter how well-structured and engaging they might be.
Positive online reviews of your products, written by people who made similar purchases, will build customers’ confidence that buying your product is a wise choice. People tend to make decisions and judgments based on the collective actions and opinions of others. In essence, they need social proof, and online reviews can provide that.
Positive online reviews can improve conversions, drive sales, enhance customer experience, and build trust for your brand. Everyone can understand that. But it would be best if you did not forget that online reviews can also have some considerable SEO benefits.
Customers use keywords when writing a review, like the name of the product or product category. As a result, online reviews, being user-generated content, can differentiate your product pages in the search results by improving their visibility and rankings for keywords like ‘name of the product + review’ or ‘name of the product + ratings,’ among others.
Finally, customers leaving reviews tend to use the same language that other people use when searching for them. Therefore, the content generated by online reviews also increases the chance of your product pages ranking better for long-tail keyword searches and helps you identify the keywords and phrases customers are using when searching for a product.
Believe it or not, bad reviews are also valuable.
No one is perfect, so not all your online reviews are going to be positive. But having a few negative reviews is not necessarily the end of the world. More than half the consumers will trust your online reviews more when they see positive and negative ones. If your website is full of nothing but good reviews, many customers will probably suspect censorship or fake reviews.
Would a few negative reviews be enough to discourage buyers from buying your product? Probably, but in this case, context is crucial. These bad reviews exist (considering that these are in the minority) will make the positive reviews way more credible in several customers’ eyes.
Negative reviews can also help your brand identify issues with your products or processes in need of improvement. Every brand has encountered the occasional overly intense negative review that can be a product of a misunderstanding, a misinterpreted situation, or written by an agitated customer. Nevertheless, if you see multiple negative reviews with the same topic, that is a clear indicator that something is wrong; an issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
That being said, how should you handle negative reviews?
Always engage with online reviews.
A few negative reviews can increase the positive ones’ credibility, but that depends on the proportion of good to bad. Too many negative reviews are not good for business.
Your brand should always engage with online reviews, good or bad. Google confirms that: customer-business interactions improve organic visibility. However, responding to positive reviews is not hard to do; it is a negative feedback that is difficult to handle.
Listen carefully, take the time to understand the problem fully.
Your customer support team should continuously monitor your website and reach out as soon as possible to every customer that leaves a negative review. Customers want to be heard, so be thoughtful and do whatever it takes to make them feel heard. The best way to do that is by giving them the attention they deserve.
Do not jump straight into trying to resolve the issue at hand. Take the time to understand the problem instead of fully. Listen carefully, ask the customer questions, and answer those questions with honesty. Nobody is perfect, and customers prefer an honest response to a genuine mistake, knowing that their problem is properly addressed. Also, never forget to validate the customer’s feelings; show empathy and compassion.
Focus on solving the problem
When you have fully understood the nature of the problem, what the customer needs, and have apologized for their displeasure with your product or service, it is time to focus on solving the problem. Take the appropriate actions to resolve the issue and show that to the customer.
Offer compensation, if necessary.
It is not always needed, but sometimes it might be worth offering a negative reviewer, especially if they had suffered financial loss. A gift card, a free accessory, or a month of free subscription to a service, there is always a way to take the extra step to show that you are not only sorry but that you want to make it right and earn that person’s trust.
Always follow up with negative reviewers.
Finally, always follow up with negative reviewers to make sure their issue has been resolved and they are now happy with your product or services. Once the customer is happy, you can politely ask them to edit their review/rating.
Online reviews are beneficial for every e-commerce business. They can maintain your brand’s image, increase brand loyalty, boost sales, contribute to SEO efforts, help you improve your brand messaging and marketing strategies, and more.
And while most brands dread bad reviews, you should remember that all feedback is useful feedback. Be thankful that a customer took the time to provide you with feedback, even if it is negative. If handled the right way, negative reviews can be an excellent way to keep customers coming back, offer you the opportunity to identify flaws in your products or operations, and position your brand ahead of the competition in today’s highly competitive e-commerce world.
Stathis Kampylis is the marketing and communication coordinator at Shiptheory, a best-in-class shipping management platform that connects retailers with the world’s best carriers to automate shipping labels, customs documentation, manifests, and tracking. He is the main contributor to Shiptheory’s E-commerce and Shipping Blog.